|RB Murari, 2010, Courtesy: Monsoon Canvas|
Corporate Art – History and time line
Corporates as art collectors existed right from the 15th century. The Medici bank is said to be the first recorded corporate art collector. The Medici bank commanded respect and good reputation in whole of Europe and were promoters of art and architecture. The Medicis were responsible for sponsoring most of the Florentine art during their reign. There were other banking houses during the Renaissance period that collected art and displayed them in their corporate offices.
In the 19th and the early part of the 20th century art was mainly used as part of a company’s marketing strategy to attract customers and promote the companies brand name. This was art used in a commercial sense.
Around 1940s it became prestigious to support art and culture and multi national corporations like IBM and others supported art shows and events to establish their importance in the corporate world. This trend caught on and by 1980s there was a boom in corporate art purchases. By the late 1980s, it had become such a popular phenomenon that the majority of the Fortune 100 and a large number of the Fortune 500 companies collected and displayed art in their workplaces.
Deutsche Bank, Microsoft, Progressive Insurance, UBS are some of corporate that maintain a world famous collection of art. It is also to be noted that these collections are primarily focused towards contemporary art. After the Monarchy, the Church and the Nobility, corporates have become the new patrons of art.
With well over 1500 corporate collections around the world, described in the International Directory, it is a very important phenomenon in the art market. The corporate art buyers have over the years become a lot wiser and more knowledgeable about art.
Why do corporates invest in art?
There are several reasons for corporations to invest in art. Although pure financial investment is one of the reasons, it does not fall into the primary motive of investing in art. Corporations are more interested in enhancing their corporate image by developing and maintaining art collections, as part of Corporate Social Responsibility programs. The Corporates being the new patrons of art are shouldering the responsibility in promoting art and culture within the society they belong to.
But the fundamental reason that encourages corporate art collecting is the fact that there has been several studies that indicate an increase in productivity and work satisfaction among the employees. A survey conducted, quite some time a go by BCA (Business Committee for Arts), with more than 800 employees working for 32 companies throughout the United States showed that art in the workplace helps businesses address some key HR challenges like: reducing stress, increasing creativity and productivity, enhancing morale, broadening employee appreciation of diversity and encouraging discussions, and expression of opinions. Art at workplace also helps in enhancing customer and community relations by promoting networking opportunities.
Corporations however are not overlooking the capital appreciation that art could bring them. They pay reputed art consulting companies to select, organize and maintain their collections. Since the selection of the artwork has been outsourced to professionals, it ensures investment of corporate money in high potential artists and artworks.
Earlier art was purchased without much planning but now art is chosen by, corporations with great care to match the organizations culture, brand and outlook. The works are closely examined for their capital appreciation potential too.
The Corporations have now become a very high determined of the contemporary art market due to their large purse strings and the number of works purchased.
Top Corporate Art Collections
There are approximately 1500 serious corporate art collectors. Here are some of the famous collections.
Progressive art collection – consists of 6500 artworks
Deutsche Bank art collections – 56,000+ works of art
UBS art collections – consists of 35,000 works of art
Microsoft art collection – 5000 works of art
Sources used in the article:
List of Corporate Art Collections
The corporate art brief -